Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Between Luang Prabang and Pakmong

We got up early in the morning in order to see the giving of alms to the monks that happened just after dawn. Every morning all the monks and novices at all of Luang Prabang's 32 temples walk in lines along the main street and people put offerings of food into alms bowls that the monks and novices hold. Some of those who give are devout buddhists and others are tourists getting into the spirit of the occasion. The spectacle while interesting was a bit too profain in tone for a religious one. It was an authentic sight to be seen in Luang Prabang and the tourists came out to see it in spite of the early hour. Many didn't see that by not keep their distance from the procession of monks that they were turning something of meaning into a circus. it wasn't just the tourists with their cameras who were responsible for this, street vendors were selling dodgy rice to allow bystanders to get involved. We saw advertised sticky rice (the staple accompanyment with any meal) for sale for the specific purpose of giving to the monks for sale at 3 USD a bowl, which seemed a little over proced since a meal including this item would normally be a similar price in a resataurant.
We stopped in a village along the road and asked at a shop for somewhere to sleep. Someone took us to a house at the back of the village where they set up a couple of mattresses on the floor for us in the family room where the family slept and cooked us a simple meal of rice and vegetables. We were so relieved to find somewhere we could sleep we didn't settle a price first and in the morning the family asked us for rather a lot, which we bargained down to 72,000 kip.
66km - 3 hrs 41 mins - 17.8km/hr

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